Philip Hugh Gulliver

September 2, 1921–March 30, 2018

Philip Hugh Gulliver died in Toronto, on Friday, March 30, 2018. He was born in Maldon (Essex), England, on September 2, 1921.

Following war service in North Africa (1942-44), he pursued doctoral studies at the London School of Economics, completing his PhD (1952) under the guidance of Isaac Schapera and Raymond Firth. It was based on three years of fieldwork with Turkana and Jie pastoralists of northern Kenya and Uganda, during which he was significantly assisted by his then-wife Pamela Gulliver. His resulting monograph, The Family Herds: A Study of Two Pastoral Tribes in East Africa (1955), provided the first complex understanding of the links between the shifting contexts of ecology and the dynamics of household lifecycles.

His pioneering contributions as an Africanist emerged from his fieldwork over a dozen years in seven different East African societies from 1948-1970. He was Research Sociologist to the Government of Tanganyika (1952–58) and then spent several years in the United States, teaching at Harvard and Boston University. In 1962, he returned to Britain and joined the fledgling anthropology department at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and became professor of African anthropology in 1967. He received the Wellcome Medal for Anthropology (1957) and the W.H.R. Rivers Memorial Medal for Anthropological Research (1966).

His primary interest centered on social control, dispute management, and negotiations, and his first major contribution to the newly emergent anthropology of law sub-discipline occurred in Social Control in an African Society (1963), followed by Neighbours and Networks: The Idiom of Kinship in Social Action among the Ndendeuli (1971), where he pioneered new ways of conceptualizing and describing social relations “in action” in the settlement of disputes, using social network analysis ,and the concept of action-set. His Disputes and Negotiations: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (1979) deployed interdisciplinary approaches to develop a theoretical, comparative model of dispute and negotiation processes from an anthropological perspective.

In 1971 Gulliver immigrated to Canada to become professor of anthropology at the University of Calgary. He subsequently moved to York University, Toronto, in 1972, also as professor of anthropology. He was a foundational figure in the creation of the Department of Anthropology and its graduate program. In cooperation with anthropologist and partner Marilyn Silverman, he carried out ethnographic and archival research in Ireland, focusing on a small town and its rural hinterland. Together, they engaged in a cumulative total of over three years of field and archival research in Ireland from 1980 to 2000 and published a social history of their locale, In the Valley of the Nore: A Social History of Thomastown, County Kilkenny, 1840–1983 (1986); edited a collection of essays, Approaching the Past: Historical Anthropology through Irish Case Studies (1992); and completed a monograph, Merchants and Shopkeepers: An Historical Anthropology of an Irish Market Town, 1200–1986 (1995). Gulliver was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1982 and Distinguished Research Professor of Anthropology in 1984. He remained at York until his official retirement in 1992.

Gulliver is survived by his long-time partner Marilyn Silverman, his four sons, eight grandchildren, and one great-grandson. His East African fieldnotes and photos are archived at SOAS, University of London; those from his and Silverman’s fieldwork in Ireland are held at the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.

With thanks to Berg/Bloomsbury publishers for the use of previously published material from Silverman, Marilyn and Pat Caplan. 1995. “A Dedication to Philip Gulliver.” In Understanding Disputes: The Politics of Argument, edited by Pat Caplan, vii-xvi. London: Berg.; and to the Canadian Anthropology Society (CASCA) for permission to use previously published material from “Commentary: A Tribute to Philip Gulliver.” Culture, XIII(2): 75–76. (Malcolm Blincow)

Cite as: Blincow, Malcolm2018. “Philip Hugh Gulliver.” Anthropology News website, June 12, 2018. DOI: 10.1111/AN.886

Post a Comment

Want to comment? Please be aware that only comments from current AAA members will be approved. AN is supported by member dues, so discussions on anthropology-news.org are moderated to ensure that current members are commenting. As with all AN content, comments reflect the views of the person who submitted the comment only. The approval of a comment to go live does not signify endorsement by AN or the AAA.

Commenting Disclaimer

Want to comment? Please be aware that only comments from current AAA members will be approve. AN is supported by member dues, so discussions on anthropology-news.org are moderated to ensure that current members are commenting. As with all AN content, comments reflect the views of the person who submitted the comment only. The approval of a comment to go live does not signify endorsement by AN or the AAA.